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his responsibilities. german cardinal joseph ratzinger became pope in 2405. he was the oldest person to become the pontiff. he strongly opposed birth control but embraced new forms of communication and joined twitter. he faced a string of challenges from sexual abuse scandals involving members of clergy to an investigation of money laundering in vatican city. a court convicted his former butler of stealing and leaking classified documents that pointed to corruption in the vatican. the pope pardoned him over christmas. it's rare for a pope to resign. pope benedict is the first to quit in nearly 600 years. senior members of the catholic church will start planning their conclave, the meeting they hold to choose a successor. catholics make up a small portion of the japanese population, still, they have been surprised by the pope's resignation. peter tekao okeda became archbishop in japan, has visited the vatican twice and was shot when he heard about the resignation. >> translator: i couldn't believe the news. we didn't see it coming. i was hoping the pope would continue, despite his age
knew benedict when benedict was joseph ratzinger. >> he could work with a real crowd and with his experience in theater and poetry and everything, he would really reach people like that. >> widmer, an author who teaches at catholic university, says as a swiss guard you never spoke to a pope or cardinal unless he addressed you first but he and benedict would chat when benedict was waiting to see pope john paul. >> completely open. >> reporter: what was he like to talk to? >> very -- he would ask me what my interests were and how i felt and how i saw things. >> reporter: and with a sense of humor, like when benedict offered to sign widmer's copy of a book that he written which was pretty thick. >> when i gave it to him he said, you're really reading this? and i said, i'm trying. he said, it helps to do it in small steps. >> reporter: but he also had a personal crisis as a guard, spending his first christmas away from home. john paul helped him through that. >> i sort of had a meltdown and right at that moment he comes out of his apartment and he noticed and he reached out to me and
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